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deGimp


Jan 15, 2007, 8:40 PM

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Beach Camping - First Timer

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The wife and I are now full-timers headquartering in the Chapala Lake area. We're also pretty experienced RV'ers, but 99% of it has been in the U.S. Our sole excursion in Mexico was to drive down MX-15 and stopping about every 6 hours at another beach. All stops were at rather basic RV parks (the last with only 12 spots.)

We'd like to get some recommendations on Near beach or On beach RV'ing (31' 5th Wheel Toy Hauler pulled by an F250, V10, 4X4.) We're fully self contained, right down to generator, so facilities aren't terribly important. Due to walking limitations the nearer the beach the better. I'm willing to pay just about anything within reason, but I've found that price does not equate to quality. Some of the best spots we've ever been in cost little or nothing. I read some nasty things about beaches near the major resort areas, so we'd also like a beach with as few dead fish, used medical supplies, feces, etc., as possible. Pristine would be great! We're "zero" footprint campers and regularly leave sites cleaner than when we arrived.

I've heard about places where you can pull your rig right onto the beach, but this sounds a bit scary even for me, Mr. Adventuresome. I've also heard that there are a number of homes that have parking on their property (usually only one space) and can make for a very nice cultural experience. My Spanish is a tad better than poco, but not up to bueno, let alone fluent. I can usually get my point across by quickly thumbing through the three Mexican Spanish books that rarely leave my side.

Since we'd be leaving from Lakeside Chapala on a first excursion I figure it best to head down towards Colima and turn north or south from there. Anyone interested in convoying just drop me a note; we love to meet new people. Once we get some experince under our belts we'd like to shoot for the coast from Colima to Oaxaca. Suggestions?

Gracias,
deGimp
I reject your reality and insert my own!



sfmacaws


Jan 15, 2007, 9:21 PM

Post #2 of 12 (4363 views)

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Re: [deGimp] Beach Camping - First Timer

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I hope you have the church book? Mike and Terri Church's Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping http://www.rollinghomes.com/Mexico%20Book.htm is considered the 'Bible' for RVers in Mexico. It is updated often, including on their web page, and they are very good at getting the details right.

There is a small town called Cuyutlan in Colima that has black sand beaches, huge waves and lots of birds. There is a parking lot at the beach where you can boondock as long as you like, it would be a good idea to buy a beer or two from the small vendors on the sand in front of the lot.

There are a lot of smaller RV parks north of Melaque that are very nice. We prefer Perula and either boondock at the beach on the dead end streets or get hookups from one of the 2 RV parks. They are all in the Church book.

Personal prejudice but one of the few areas in Mexico that we have avoided so far, and will continue to avoid, are the beaches in Guerrero. In fact we just stay out of the whole damn state. YMMV but there are so many other wonderful beaches that it hardly seems worth it to deal with the lawlessness of Guerrero.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




MazDee

Jan 17, 2007, 7:41 AM

Post #3 of 12 (4317 views)

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Re: [deGimp] Beach Camping - First Timer

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If you get up this far north, you might want to try Stone Island (Isla de la Piedra) near Mazatlán. It is a different world from the city, with miles of beautiful coco palm-lined beaches and a new RV park that I understand is very nice. It is not actually an island, but a penninsula. Most of us here take a 10 minute panga ride across the harbor from Maz to get there. But there is a loooong road that will take you too. There is a tiny town with a couple of very good restaurants on the beach. The area is basically undeveloped, and hopefully will be for a while since it is an ejido. Relaxing, quiet and beautiful. Maybe Mazgordon will add something as he and Rita like to RV there to get out of town. Dee


deGimp


Jan 17, 2007, 12:15 PM

Post #4 of 12 (4304 views)

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Re: [deGimp] Beach Camping - First Timer

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Muchos gracias for the good suggestions. I am still open to more, so as others read this I hope they'll tell me about their secret locations. Remember that I'm packing a 31' 5th Wheel, not a mini'. I'm a brave soul, but not entirely stupid. I've got 4 wheel drive and a V-10, so I can get myself out of most problems.

Specially I appreciate the out of the way spot near Mazatlan and I am in no way adverse to "going up north."

On the RV'ing in Mexico book: Thanks for the recommendations. I'm checking out whether to have it sent from the States or buy locally.

I am leery of travel books as things change (especially in the world of RV's.) I don't know how many of these books I purchased only to find that information is obsolete or just plain wrong. I had an experience using a guide on the way down here; A site was suggested in a small town and gave the Km marker for the exit. What they didn't mention was that the exit (off a 4-Lane hwy/Couta) was a tiny dirt road, no EXIT sign and an overpass and limited shoulder. Imagine seeing this at the last instance, driving 50MPH with a trailer loaded to about 10,000lb. There was no way I was going to hit my brakes to make the exit. As simple notation that it was a difficult exit, to turn on your blinkers, slow to 20-30mph and be prepared for a dirt bath might have been helpful. BTW, the next "retorno" was 15 miles and it was your left lane/break in the median. Found a truckers rest stop and spent the night.

Again, on the same trip we found a park along the way that indicated it was "just a few miles" from the Couta and that if we followed a little map included we'd avoid going through urban Las Moches. The suggestion is a good one as Moches is pretty typical as far as street width, drivers, traffic, etc. The problem was that the map had a glaring error which caused us to head down a 2-lane "farm-to-market" road, no place to turn around and heading in the wrong direction. When I very nice farmer saw my situation (I was trying to back into a tiny "road" over a canal) he drew me a map which routed me through his rather large property, on dirt roads and back to the correct turn off. I had the feeling I wasn't the first Gringo he'd rescued. After we got back to the correct turn off (completely unmarked) we were on one nasty bit of road for many, many miles (remember the "just a few miles") which took us to ANOTHER road and then one had more topes for KM than I'd ever seen. Turned out a "few miles" was something like 25. The bright side was the RV park was excellent.

Buenas Viajes!
deGimp
I reject your reality and insert my own!


wendy devlin

Jan 17, 2007, 3:16 PM

Post #5 of 12 (4294 views)

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Re: [deGimp] Beach Camping - First Timer

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De Gimp,
Your trip down in your 5th wheel reminds me a lot of our first two RVing trips in Mexico, hauling a 17' Bigfoot trailer.

The Churches book is often recommended because it seems that every few years they travel around Mexico again, and up-grade their information. Plus as was mentioned they post reader's up-dates to campground information on their web-site.

There's also web-sites like the link listed below where RVers who have recently made trips post, their comments and reports. Plus people in the progress of their trips and people wanting to make their trips etc. You might even meet someone you know from this forum there:)

http://www.rv.net/...istings/forum/66.cfm

One caveat, though to some of the postings on forums.

People often hear warnings and stories before they travel around Mexico. They take their first trip and maybe more and nothing untoward happens to them. Especially down the Pacific coast of Mexico from the border to Colima where the RV path is well beaten. People often return to travel forums with glowing trip reports of their safe travel through some regions, often thought as relatively high-risk by more experienced travellers.

However, just because you don't have situation happen to you that doesn't necessarily mean that they don't happen. So keep an open- mind to travel advisories.
For us, thefts, Pemex scams and lots of other incidents happened on our early trips, when we were green as grass in Mexico and quite adventuresome.

Meanwhile there are a number of beautiful beaches along that coast-line north and south and wonderful camping experiences likely to be found at all of them.
If there's room, that is!

Some of our favorite RVing experiences, happened when we asked permission to camp in places that weren't official campgrounds. However that doesn't mean we camped alone on an isolated beach(at least not since our early trips!).

It means more that we negotiated with restaurant owners, caretakers, farmers for permission to stay a short time. Paying in kind, by buying drinks and eating at the restaurant, buying sacks of oranges etc. from the farmer's, giving children school supplies, back-packs, giving women beautiful things and men, good knives etc. or pesos, paying something close to what might be paid for a similiar campground elsewhere.

You've got plenty of time, no...for poking around?


sfmacaws


Jan 17, 2007, 10:25 PM

Post #6 of 12 (4270 views)

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Re: [wendy devlin] Beach Camping - First Timer

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Of course you can probably find an error in the Church book if you really pick at it. The point though is that it is the most accurate book out there, Mike and Terri are down here EVERY winter checking and rechecking. If you RV in Mexico long enough you will no doubt meet them, they are very hard working though so don't expect them to spend a lot of time hanging out. They are out every day clocking distances and double checking turnoffs. They have books on Alaska (where Mike is from), the Pacific Northwest, Baja, Mexico and Europe. All of them are well researched and have excellent directions. My advice to anyone driving in Mexico is 'don't leave home without it', goes double if you are in an RV and triple if you are in a large class A as they give advice about fitting those beasts into each campground.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




sfmacaws


Jan 17, 2007, 10:29 PM

Post #7 of 12 (4268 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Beach Camping - First Timer

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Oh, and you might want to also check RVNet http://www.rv.net/...istings/forum/66.cfm for up to the minute info on available sites.

I just read there that Perula, the beach I recommended up a ways, is full to brimming as are many other campgrounds (maybe even most) down that far. Another month and things will change but january is a tough month to find an actual RV campground spot on the west coast of Mexico.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




deGimp


Jan 19, 2007, 7:53 AM

Post #8 of 12 (4235 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Beach Camping - First Timer

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Windy y SFMacaws:
Great input. I did want to make sure everyone was aware that I wasn't commenting on the Church book in my previous comments. I don't like to name-names unless I am very sure that the item/product is potentially dangerous or just plain worthless OR to the contrary, is a valuable tool. Even though I have "bad mouthed it," the "travel guide," http://www.ontheroadin.com/index.html or more specifically, http://www.ontheroadin.com/Mexico%20road%20Logs/mexico_road_logs3.htm, is a series of excellent KM by KM guides. It includes Pemex's, Topes/Vibrados, check points, specific problems regarding driving through towns and little clues as to where you are and how far you have to go. This publication is available for download (I'm not even sure it is in print) and can be left on a notebook computer or printed out in part or total. For a person who has never made the trip down MX-15 it is an excellent aid to reduce anxiety and costs only about $8.00US. I own both the MX-15 and the MX-200 routes, plus the RV Park Guide for MX-15.
Tons of good information on this site about the driving process in Mexico! My main frustration with them has been RV sites (out of date/misleading) and local directions (confusing and sometimes wrong.)
deGimp


In Reply To
Of course you can probably find an error in the Church book if you really pick at it. The point though is that it is the most accurate book out there, Mike and Terri are down here EVERY winter checking and rechecking. If you RV in Mexico long enough you will no doubt meet them, they are very hard working though so don't expect them to spend a lot of time hanging out. They are out every day clocking distances and double checking turnoffs. They have books on Alaska (where Mike is from), the Pacific Northwest, Baja, Mexico and Europe. All of them are well researched and have excellent directions. My advice to anyone driving in Mexico is 'don't leave home without it', goes double if you are in an RV and triple if you are in a large class A as they give advice about fitting those beasts into each campground.

I reject your reality and insert my own!


sparks


Jan 23, 2007, 4:56 AM

Post #9 of 12 (4187 views)

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Re: [deGimp] Beach Camping - First Timer

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I'd be cautious with the 'On the Road' web site. I've emailed them twice about updates in Melaque and Boca de Iguanas and never got a reply or seen changes on the site.

A number of places between Melaque and Vallarta ... but as someone said, January is pretty busy. We just got back from driving the Michoacan coast (also up to Patzcuaro) and that would not be my favorite trip with a large rig.

Sparks Mexico Blog - Sparks Costalegre


wendy devlin

Jan 23, 2007, 4:21 PM

Post #10 of 12 (4159 views)

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Re: [sparks] Beach Camping - First Timer

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sparks,
you've emailed them twice with up-dates?

That's blowing a hole in an impression that they are responsive to viewer's up-dates.

However, the Churches likely have their reasons:)

It's been some years, since we hauled our trailer down the Michoacan/ Guerrero/Chiapas coast but it was a slow ride back then.

If they still have as many topes entering and leaving each little village along the highway, I imagine it's still a slow ride with any low-hanging rig now.

De Gimp mentions encountering many topes on his inaugural voyage south.
Might be realistic to expect more of the same.

Plus I share the same security concerns for that stretch of highway as Jonna, Bubba and alex have expressed.
Until that region is under control, I wouldn't recommend driving there.


sparks


Jan 23, 2007, 4:54 PM

Post #11 of 12 (4156 views)

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Re: [wendy devlin] Beach Camping - First Timer

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Well it's not like 'the Churches' haven't had time to get back because it's been months. I even offered to send fotos. Who knows?

As far as Michoacan - I would be careful where I stay - probably only in a hotel in San Juan de Alima or Caleta de Campos - but I'm old. La Ticla looked safe enough with lots of surfers around.

We found normal military on either side of the Colima border, in Maruata they were behind sand bags, looked serious and asked a lot of questions ... and just south of El Faro we gave a military guy a ride to Playa Azul who had done his few days of duty and lived in Lazarao Cardenas.

Roads are still slow, windy, topes but generally in good shape except for the northern part of the state.

Sparks Mexico Blog - Sparks Costalegre


sfmacaws


Jan 23, 2007, 8:48 PM

Post #12 of 12 (4140 views)

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Re: [sparks] Beach Camping - First Timer

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On the Road and The Churches are not the same thing. Mike and Terri Church put out the book Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping http://www.rollinghomes.com/Mexico%20Book.htm and I think it is the Bell's that put out the On the Road video and maybe book.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán


 
 
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